Skip to main content

Quick Looks: Won by the Sword

Won by the Sword went down like Fat Man over Nagasaki on most wargame forums when released by GMT back in 2014. Lots of misprints on the components and errors in the rules gave it a bad rep to such an extent that GMT decided to bail it out with a patch. James and I have played a couple of games reworked version, it still rides like a bike with two missing gears but its probably the most innovative and insightful design to hit the scene in the past 10 years.


The rules; they work fine for the most part, James is clearer on the gaps than me, he reads them, I'm the opponent. What I will say is that they work if you can put the daddy pants on and make common sense decisions to fill any minor gaps.



Forage; Some games are about movement, some about concentration of fire, some moral, others unit composition, some bluff or even supply routes. Won by the Sword is about burning peoples villages and taking all their food, mostly just to stop your opponent doing it. This is the 30 years war, armies are big and supply chains  are poor, so armies ravage southern Germany for food and booty. Each turn end every army has to consume a certain amount of forage tokens or take corresponding losses, equally large moves or deploying for battle all costs forage. Forage is generated by scourging the land. What this leads to is strategic deprivation of your opponents likely objectives and cat and mouse with the balance of your force. In English what I mean is this; You want to try and burn the areas your opponent is likely to go, even if they are your own country, and you want to split your forces up to maximize foraging but with out getting caught in a battle. Concentration of force is a big deal here.

At the most basic level this is a game where each player has 1-5 armies and has a set of target cities to take. The siege, combat and CDG elements of the game are all slick and well thought through. It's the forage that makes the game really something though. It leads to double think, moral ambiguity (a great feature in any game) and high tension gambits. Armies are made up of dozens of counters on display hidden behind a screen, as such you don't know who has run out of food, and how large a force really is until you drag it into battle.

Book I borrowed off Pete on fortress design in this era

The only major downside is the scenarios. They are fine, but they all boil down to start your armies here and take these cities. They feel rather samey given how easy it is to traverse the map. 

In many respects its a shame this system had such bad teething issues as this could the first game in a fantastic series. Who knows perhaps Ben Hull will come back to it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Play Thru: Washington's Crossing

Being a man who likes diversity I bought / pre-ordered 4 games for Christmas about dudes in flashy coats with muskets marching around road networks. I’ve already Quick looked at Nappys Nemesis 1813, Metz is yet to be released from P500, Autumn of Glory is on the shelf, so this weekend I have played Washington’s Crossing.




The Patriot opening more or less followed the script. Washington moved with his stack, crossed the Delaware with decent movement and ferry rolls and come morning was sat just outside Trenton next to Rall’s Hessian garrison. The American gets a rather scripted +5 to surprise rolls when attacking Trenton, plus it being dawn and a prepared attack gave Washington very favourable odds but the roll was terrible and Rall escaped with only 25% losses and a retreat.
Further south Greene collected a few detachments of militia and drove the other Hessian garrisons north.



The Hessians forced marched out wide forcing Washington to either hunt them down for a few extra vps, or look el…

Quick Looks; Red Star / White Eagle

I generally hate it when people describe designs or ideas in games as dated, because many of the most innovative games  are older than I am. Equally it implies there is something innately good about new designs, which I don't think there is.

Dune is arguably the best multiplayer 'war' boardgame and the 70s basic DnD is in my view still the best RPG. I wasn't born until the late 80s and didn't discover these things to the mid 2000s so this isn't nostalgia doing my thinking, its just that some old ideas are better than new ones, despite our apparent 'progress'.



But having said all this Red Star / White Eagle is a dated game design. And this matters if you are looking at popping £70 on a new reprint of it from Compass Games. I am a wary cheapskate so I picked up a second hand copy with a trashed box of ebay for £20. It was worth it, but only just.


Red Star / White Eagle is a GDW 1979 Hex and Counter wargame covering the 1920 Russo - Polish war. Everything …

Quick Looks: The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbour to the Philippines

Imported games have the allure of being foreign and expensive, they also often come with the glamorous trappings of bad rules translation. Pacific War is all of these things but first the good;
It’s short. I’m not being factious here, generally Pacific Theatre war games are long and complicated, which is fine but it leaves the shallow end of the dream pool rather empty. The Pacific War clocks in around 2-3 hours and feels engrossing for this life span.
You’ve got a point to point map, pretty and functional but no pageant winner, a deck of cards, and a load of counters representing ships that come in on a historical reinforcement schedule. Each year long turn you get a variable number of cards. Players take action rounds discarding a card to win the privilege of doing something and then either play an event card, or move some ships, or resupply some ships (so they can move again). Once out of cards they roll off for priority in taking more actions but if they roll doubles the year ends.